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COVID case at St. C. high school, county numbers going up

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville High School is closed today after reports Wednesday that a student tested positive for the coronavirus.

Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul reported the positive case late Wednesday afternoon via text message, adding that his office was following procedure to determine if the virus has further spread.

Superintendent Walt Skaggs elaborated.

“Unfortunately, we have one individual in the high school who tested positive,” he said. “Therefore the high school will be working remotely from home tomorrow so that the Belmont County Health Department can conduct contact tracing and notify any individuals impacted. … We’re hoping to be back in session on Friday.”

He added that the elementary and middle schools would be following their regular schedules.

“Their buildings were not impacted at this time,” Skaggs said.

The student’s positive test result was reported at the end of the day Wednesday, so the high school did not send students home early.

Skaggs declined to say if the student participated in any sports events or if there are concerns about any particular staff members as contacts.

“That individual was here on Tuesday morning,” he said of the student.

“We’re working closely with the Belmont County Health Department. Anyone that’s identified as a close contact will be notified by the health department directly,” Skaggs said.

He said anyone with questions is able to contact the health department at 740-695-1202. He also advises those in the district to maintain their social distancing, sanitary measures and other precautions.

“We have a lot of faith in the Belmont County Health Department. We feel we have very good protocols in place to conduct the contact tracing,” Skaggs said.

He added there are about 450 students at the high school. Since the schools reopened, about 85 percent of students have attended in person, with 15 percent opting to learn online.

St. Clairsville joins Martins Ferry, Shadyside and Union Local school districts in reporting positive cases since the school year began. In the earlier three instances, the districts’ precautions were reportedly sufficient to identify likely contacts and quarantine the minimum of people.

This comes on the heels of a spike of new coronavirus cases from Tuesday. Sproul did not attend the Belmont County Board of Commissioners, but he reported via text an increase of several infections, placing Belmont County at 58 people actively infected. In addition, two more people have been hospitalized since Tuesday for a total of seven. On Friday, the number of active cases had been 39.

There have been a total of 786 cases in Belmont County since the pandemic arrived and 697 recoveries. Sproul has reported 25 coronavirus-related deaths in Belmont County, including nine inmates at Belmont Correctional Institution.

Sproul said he could not pinpoint any common factors in the new cases.

“They are coming from all around the county,” he said via text.

Sproul said Belmont County remains designated “yellow” in Ohio’s color-coded alert system.

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